Africa bound once again
30.10.2018 - 31.10.2018
30th October 2018 Bristol - London
24 hours to go – time to check in. As soon as I type in the ticket number, I get a message stating: “Cannot check in as the time/date of flight has changed”. Groan. We know from experience that even a five minute time change messes up the Turkish Airlines' on-line check-in system, so we are not overly worried at this stage.
Having found their telephone number on line, I try to ring the airline, but as soon as I get the ringing tone the line cuts off. This happens three more times. I wonder if it is my mobile playing up, so I get David to try as he is on a different network. Same thing happens to him.
On their website is another telephone number which I try, but that comes back as 'unobtainable'. After a bit of searching on the web I find a third number which actually has a real live person the other end and doesn't cut out on us. She reconfirms the flights for the four of us and assures us that we will be able to check in on line now. Hurrah!
When he tries, David can't even get beyond the point where he enters the ticket number. I have more success, getting as far as being able to choose our seats for all the flights. Unfortunately the second flight from Istanbul to Kilimanjaro appears to be full, and the only available seats are four singles scattered throughout the aircraft. Another groan. I am hoping we'll be able to rectify that when we get to the airport tomorrow. I get as far as pressing the all-important button that says CHECK IN when the computer tells me there is a 'technical error'. I try several times, each time the system returns the same error message. David tries too, with the same result. After nearly two hours of getting nowhere, we finally give up.
With Lyn and Chris we make our way up to Heathrow for overnight at the Premier Inn by the airport. We have a few drinks in the room (having seen the prices in the bar!) followed by a very enjoyable dinner with excellent service from a very cute waiter. I don't sleep well though, not sure whether it is result of too much food, the alcohol or the building excitement. Or maybe a combination of the three.
31st October 2018 London – Istanbul – Zanzibar - Kilimanjaro
After a very decent breakfast we make our way to the airport to drop the car at the valet parking. Once we reach the departures area, we are not surprised to find that we are unable to complete the self-service check in, but have to join the long, slow queue for the manned desks.
Those of you who follow me on social media will have 'met' Big Bertha, the newest member of my camera family (for those of you who don't know, Big Bertha is an enormous 600mm camera lens). Bertha is way too big and heavy to take as hand luggage on the aircraft along with the rest of the 'family' (camera equipment), so I am having to check her into the hold. Gulp. We have wrapped her in cling film and she is double locked with a padlock and chain as well as the locks on the case itself. The case is extremely well insulated and padded (after all, she came over from Japan in it), so should be shock and knock proof; and the kind lady at the check-in desk plasters her with FRAGILE stickers. I wave a reluctant and nervous goodbye as she gently slides down the conveyor belt. “See you in Tanzania” Hopefully. The same kind lady also sorts our boarding cards out so that we can sit together on all the flights.
A good friend (“thank you Jen”) has sorted out passes for us to the executive lounge at the airport, a lovely quiet area with food and drink, making for a nice and relaxed start to the trip.
And so we settle in to our aircraft sea (we are lucky, the plane is not full and we can spread out a little) for the long journey to Kilimanjaro Airport via Istanbul and Zanzibar.